3 minute read • published in partnership with Universal Wolf
Insight: Design for manufacturing as a competitive advantage
Design for Manufacturing (DFM) sits in the initial stage of a project development journey and is key for competitive advantage. Andrew Avery from Universal Wolf – leaders in complex metal fabrication – explains how it supports its customers and why collaboration is critical.
Since joining Universal Wolf over 15 years ago, I have worked as Head of NPI (New Product Introduction), as well as Project Manager, Engineering Manager, and now Technical Sales Manager. For me, this means I can provide our customers with a complete 360’ view of our customer engagement process from DFM, and NPI through to the various touchpoints of metal fabrication production, as well as paint shop and assembly.
Customers typically engage in our design for manufacture service to ensure their product design is manufactured in the most efficient and effective manner possible, resulting in a product design that is not only cost-effective design, but optimized for repeatable manufacture too. The repercussions of not having a robust design for manufacturing process could potentially mean creating a product that is not fit for purpose. For example, this could be a result of impossibly bend geometry, or that the fixtures and fittings are unsuitable, or it could simply be that it is not cost effective to manufacture. As a result, a robust DFM process means our customers do not circle back repeatedly needing to remake or redesign their product, and this represents considerable cost, time and resource benefits.
Do one thing and do it well
Another important aspect of DFM is that metal fabrication is not usually a core competency of our customers. We bring to the table a 50-year heritage in metal fabrication and pride ourselves in working closely with our customers to ensure we deliver beyond expectation. From sourcing the right materials, supply chain management, to planning around timescale limitations, we ensure each design element is reviewed by our technical experts so that the product that we’re delivering to our customers is one which will drive results.
Innovation through collaboration
We not only work with our customers (Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEMs), we also seek input from their customers too. We recently worked with a customer that used an in-house team to design an enclosure they wanted to manufacture. We worked closely with them and their customers’ customer and redesigned it from the ground up to ensure it met their requirements. As a result, we were able to find a better, more cost effective and more repeatable way of manufacturing their product.
Even if the product has been manufactured by a different metal partner, we will still take it through our design for manufacturing process to see whether we can improve, build upon it and tailor it to the manufacturing processes and tools within Universal Wolf – resulting in a better, smarter product.
Better, Smarter, Pack
Above all, at Universal Wolf we pride ourselves on a ‘smarter, better, pack’ ethos. Such values go beyond simply having a technical background, it intuitively means thinking outside the box. It’s about having the courage to challenge and question how things are done and to ask, for example: ‘What if we took that out and replaced it with this?’ Such a drive for curiosity and collaboration is critical to what makes us special.
At Universal Wolf, we are all part of The Pack. Our drive for better and smarter is very much a part of the Universal Wolf design for manufacturing process. We believe that good is not good enough. When we complete a project, there is a real sense of pride because we become part of our customers’ success. There’s nothing better than seeing our customers deliver results for their customers. For us, it’s very rewarding to be a part of our customers’ success and to see another job well done.